Variations in psychological profile among children with recurrent abdominal pain

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2008 Sep;15(3):241-51. doi: 10.1007/s10880-008-9120-0. Epub 2008 Jul 25.


This study was designed to determine whether distinct subgroups of children with recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) could be identified based on patterns of psychological functioning. Two hundred and eighty-three children (ages 8-17 years), and a primary caretaker, completed the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC) during the initial evaluation of RAP at a pediatric gastroenterology clinic. Cluster analysis of BASC scores supported a 3-cluster solution, with fair agreement observed between parents and children on cluster assignment. Approximately half of the sample identified no significant psychological problems. A small percentage (13%) evidenced intense and broad-based psychological problems, while the remainder (35-45%) indicated relative elevations in anxiety only. Cluster membership did not vary systematically by age, gender, race, or functional gastrointestinal disorder diagnosis. Distinct psychological profiles appear to exist for children with RAP. Targeting treatments to these profiles may improve the effectiveness and efficiency with which health professionals address pediatric abdominal pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Psychology, Child
  • Recurrence
  • Self Disclosure
  • Social Behavior
  • Surveys and Questionnaires